KT Sullivan & Mark Nadler

By William Wolf


For starters at their show at the Oak Room in the Algonquin, KT Sullivan and Mark Nadler can dip into a treasure trove of songs by the late, great lyricists Comden and Green. And that’s surely a great start. But the creative team Sullivan and Nadler have gone beyond the obvious in their show, “Make Someone Happy: Remembering Betty Comden and Adolph Green.” Amazingly, they have culled Comden-Green films for dialogue to quote, and have cleverly stitched the dialogue together for their patter and introductions to the generous helping of numbers.

Such a gambit carries the peril of being too mechanical. No such worry here. Sullivan and Nadler charmingly deliver the material wittily and entertainingly as they create a story line that makes this show very different from most. Dialogue is taken from the films “The Barcleys of Broadway,” “On the Town,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” “The Bandwagon” “It’s Always Fair Weather” and “Bells are Ringing.” The result is freshness that enlivens the room and provides the perfect framework for what these two superb artists do best--putting over a song. Their previous experience working together shows in the way in which they perform in perfect synch.

Sullivan has a lovely voice, twinkle in her eyes and a consistently charming manner whether she is holding forth at the mike, or strolling about the room to engage patrons more directly. Nadler plays the piano like a demon, whether taking an amazing solo trip or accompanying his partner in sublime. They are also terrific singing in duet, and both know how to interpret the various songs so that we can appreciate the lyrics, offered with maximum clarity and meaning.

Comden and Green wrote with the best--composers Jule Styne, Leonard Bernstein and Cy Coleman, all also unfortunately gone now. But what work is left to enjoy! Sullivan and Nadler deliver a repertoire that includes such songs as “Comes Once in a Lifetime,” “New York, New York,” “It’s Love,” “100 Ways to Lose a Man,” “Long Before I Knew You,” “Catch Our Act at the Met,” “Ohio,” “Just in Time,” “The Party’s Over,” “Some Other Time,” and of course, “Make Someone Happy,” among others.

One highlight is Sullivan appearing in a form-fitting black dress with a feather boa as an accessory, and wandering the room singing “Never Met a Man I Didn’t Like” from “The Will Rogers Follies,” for which Cy Coleman wrote the music. It adds a pleasing, personal touch to the classy evening.